Tom George, Chairman UK and Northern Europe EMEA, MEC and chair of the IPA Media Futures Group reflects on the Q4 2015 Bellwether survey.
The UK economy generally performed well in 2015. It was the first year that GfK’s Consumer Confidence Index remained positive for a whole year, interest rates remained low, employment was high and consumer spending continued to increase. Indeed, George Osborne was at pains to remind us that the UK’s economic performance ranked second only to the US in the G7 rankings. The same George Osborne also painted a less optimistic picture for 2016 and it is therefore perhaps not surprising that while the fourth quarter 2015 Bellwether report still presents an overall optimistic picture, it also highlights some potential warning signs – thirteen successive quarters of growth but with a deceleration in the forecast rate of increase to the lowest in three years at 0.5%. – down from 4.4% from the last report.
The situation for the main media and the internet fared slightly better, however, at 1.1% and 6.9% respectively.
Given the downward trend of the latest report, the pertinent question would seem to be whether or not the growth sentiment for both remains over optimistic or whether the sentiments expressed really are a bellwether for the prospects of media investment in 2016?
We would suggest not.
There are many independent proof points for marketing’s and advertising’s crucial roles in building long-term brand growth and therefore business value. Evidence gleaned from the market would indicate that marketers agree and perhaps are now better equipped to make stronger effectiveness cases to the budget holders in their businesses (more of which later).
At GroupM, we have revised our 2016 forecasts upwards to 7.4% growth, while the latest ZenithOptimedia forecasts take an even more bullish stance with a forecast growth of 9.7%. Both cite a continued strong performance in television and the internet. If these predictions are right for 2016, then this will be the fifth consecutive year that UK ad investment will have outstripped GDP growth.
If we want our clients to continue to invest, then in 2016 as an industry, we must refrain from the over-simplistic denigration of one media channel versus another and instead continue to demystify ‘digital’ for our clients. We must purge the issues re viewability/bot-fraud/transparency and last but not least we must better understand the contribution of paid, owned and earned channels in demonstrating the effectiveness of what we do in helping our clients’ businesses grow.
That last point about effectiveness is a key pillar of Tom Knox’s IPA presidency this year. Expect to hear more about this very soon.
Last updated 14/01/2016